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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq; Middle East

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 OTTAWA 002129

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN, WHA/PDA
WHITE HOUSE PASS NSC/WEUROPE, NSC/WHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KMDR OIIP OPRC CA
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQ; MIDDLE EAST


IRAQ
1. "Bush's 16 words"
The conservative National Post opined (7/22): "...As
things stand, the pro-and anti-Bush camps sit at a sort
of stalemate, both sides waiting for the leak that will
definitively vindicate their version of events. But it
is more likely the brouhaha will end with an
inconclusive anticlimax, one whose ultimate effect is
to vindicate the President. Far from being a scandal
'worse than Watergate,' or an effort to deliberately
'mislead' the public, the State of the Union glitch
seems to have resulted in large part from the interplay
between an overzealous, but well-intentioned, White
House staffer and an insufficiently assertive, but
equally well-intentioned, CIA analyst.... [T]here is
every reason to expect the false scandal surrounding
Mr. Bush's January speech will subside. Enemies of the
President may find an
issue to bring him down in the 2004 election. But it
won't be this one."

2. "The tragic cost of a rash Iraq war"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (7/22): "British
scientist David Kelly should be alive today. But like
thousands of others, he has become a casualty of the
American/British rush to make war on Iraq.... Blair has
ordered a judicial probe of this tragedy, seeking to
absolve his government of blame. But he already has
lost the public's confidence.... In Washington, U.S.
President George Bush is also under siege for
exaggerating Saddam's nuclear ambitions to justify war.
His support is fading. There is a savage
irony in this postwar blame game. Tragic as his death
is, Kelly is just one victim of Bush's obsession with
'regime change' in Baghdad, and Blair's eager
compliance. Some 275 American and British troops have
also died, along with more than 8,500 Iraqi civilians
and military. They are the other casualties in Bush's
drive to 'save' the world from weapons of mass
destruction that Washington has yet to produce. The
American taxpayer, meanwhile, is on the hook for more
than $60 billion for the war and $1 billion a week
since.... This is a mess, and a fearsome price for a
war that U.N. inspectors cautioned against from the
start. They loathed Saddam's vicious regime. But they
believed, rightly, that sanctions were working. That
Baghdad was contained. That there was no need to rush
to war. They were right."

3. "Through the fog of war"
Contributing foreign editor Eric Margolis observed in
the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (7/20): "...As the
furor in Washington grows over Bush's admission of now-
discredited claims about Iraqi uranium imports from
Africa in his keynote state of the union address,
administration officials are viciously blaming one
another... Blame rightly belongs to Bush himself, and
to his woefully inadequate national security adviser,
Condoleezza Rice. Either they knew the uranium story
was false, or they were unfit for high office. For one
thing, uranium ore is no more threatening than cake
mix.... Bush's crusade against Iraq was designed to
assuage Americans' fury and fear over 9/11 by making
Saddam Hussein a whipping boy for the attack in which
he had no part. The jolly little wars against
Afghanistan and Iraq were also designed to make
Americans forget the Bush White House had been caught
with its pants down by 9/11, and was asleep at the
switch in the Enron financial disaster. Who now
remembers that Attorney General John Ashcroft actually
cut spending on anti-terrorism before 9/11, or that
Washington was giving millions to the Taliban until
four months before 9/11? How better to get Americans to
support a war than by insinuating, as did Bush, that
Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and claiming Saddam was
about to attack the U.S. with weapons of mass
destruction? A pre-emptive attack on Iraq was urgent to
save America, insisted Bush. A weak-kneed Congress and
credulous public went along with White House
warmongering, while the spineless UN secretary
general, Kofi Annan, and UN arms inspector Hans Blix
wriggled like jellyfish. Most Democrats, including some
presidential candidates, joined Bush's lynch mob.... A
torrent of lies poured from the administration, all
aimed at justifying a war of aggression, thwarting the
UN Security Council,
ending UN inspections in Iraq and grabbing Iraq's oil
riches. Virtually all administration claims about
Iraq's weapons had been disproved by UN inspectors
before Bush went to war.... And the biggest canard of
all: Bush's absurd claims there was 'no doubt that the
Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of
the most lethal weapons ever devised,' and that it
'threatened all mankind.' Thanks to the shameful
complicity of the U.S. media, which amplified White
House propaganda, Americans were led to believe
Iraq attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and was in league with
al-Qaida. Bush's faux war on terrorism was redirected,
by clever White House spin, into a hugely popular
campaign against Iraq. The failure to kill terrorist
leader Osama bin Laden was covered up by the rush to
kill Saddam. The litany of lies produced by the White
House and its neo-con allies would be farcical were it
not for the deaths of so many Americans and Iraqis. Of
course, all politicians lie. But lying to get one's
country into an unnecessary war is an outrage, and
ought to be an impeachable offence."

4. "Intelligence blunder"
Under the sub-heading, "War in Iraq was justified, but
misleading public was not," the right-of-center Calgary
Herald commented (7/22): "The fact that weapons of mass
destruction have not yet been found in post-war Iraq is
a sore spot for those who supported the war. But the
recent public furor in the U.S. and Britain over
inaccurate intelligence reports shows that half the
truth is worse than a whole lie.... Historians may
forgive Bush's and Blair's use of hyped-up intelligence
reports, but voters tend to be far less forgiving. It
is not yet clear whether the world is a safer place now
with Saddam out of Iraq, but Americans and Britons have
good reason to be less trusting of their leaders."

5. "Where are WMDs?"
The conservative tabloid Winnipeg Sun (7/15) remarked:
"It's a simple question for U.S. President George Bush
to answer: Where are Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) - whether nuclear, chemical or biological?...
Iraq's WMD - not its WMD program, a word now starting
to enter the Bush/Blair vocabulary - was the main
justification for this war. We believed it was a valid
one.... The moral justification the coalition gave for
invading Iraq was that it was, in effect, an act of
self-defence because of Iraq's WMD, Saddam's proven
willingness to use them and his known support of
terrorism. If the coalition cannot produce convincing
evidence of the WMD it said Iraq had, the moral case
for launching a pre-emptive war will have been fatally
undermined."

MIDDLE EAST
6. "The real 'road map' lies behind the scenes"
Ottawa Citizen contributor David Warren wrote in the
conservative National Post (7/19): "...The Israel-
Palestine negotiations are a U.S. State Department
task, and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is the
chief ball-carrier. But the team behind him is
remarkable, both for its informality and small size.
President Bush's idea was to keep it this way on
purpose: to avoid creating the kind of institutional
force field that pushes problems further away as it
advances toward them, keeping them insoluble. He
has instead created the diplomatic equivalent of one of
the Pentagon's special forces, which go in and out of
hot spots without embedded reporters.... The sort of
real problems that are being dealt with behind the
scenes, by truly tireless multi-person shuttle
diplomacy, include the intifada legacy of Palestinian
terror cells and media incitement, on the one
side; and specific, over-visible Israeli security
measures, on the other. It is less like a
constitutional progression toward a new Palestinian
state, and more like a protracted mutual disarmament
and disengagement between two already existing
governments. The point is to snuff out the intifada,
and the Israeli response to the intifada, while
building a new, and co-operative, security arrangement
between the two sides, modelled specifically on that
which already exists between Israel and Jordan. While
I'm going out on a limb to write this, I think the
grander, operatic questions of border drawing and
refugee settlements are already answered, or
more precisely, mutually assumed.... It remains,
unfortunately, in Yasser Arafat's interest to wait for
his moment to blow everything up - since his own power
increases with conflict and diminishes with peace. It
is an elaborate game getting him and keeping him
sidelined - one that's still being played. And the
Europeans, led by the French, continue to indulge the
soft-headed and immodest policy of throwing him
diplomatic lifelines, by publicly recognizing him in
defiance of U.S. pressure. That is the chief external
thing getting in the way."

CELLUCCI

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